Learn about our labels

“Slender”, “Average”, “Stout.” 

Corsets in the early 20th century were mass produced and labelled in these three categories. Sound familiar?

“Small, Medium, Large.” 

How is it that so many of us, right from the 20th century have left a store feeling guilty and ashamed of our uniquely dynamic bodies. We walk in, wide eyed at all the options, our glaze darting back and forth at a potential birthday dress, a first day of college look, the perfect mix of colours and bling for a mehendi ceremony. One glance at the 2cm label on the back of an outfit can instantly pull us under the harsh spotlight in a 2X2 interrogation room, trying to find an explanation for the judgemental voices, “how many pizza slices did you eat, how about that extra piece of cake?” We’re unworthy, uninvited to the party of the flawless. 

‘XS, S, M, L, XL.’ We go through the five stages of grief trying to fit ourselves in a single-lettered box; picking and pulling at every bit of skin, hoping it’ll smooth out the bulges. One can only imagine what the women and men that came before us must have felt – to have to describe themselves as, ‘Slender, Average, Stout.’ 

Whether we realise it or not, we’re engaged in constant self-expression through fashion. 90% of us, according to the Journal of Consumer Psychology, feel positive or negative effects depending on the size we see on a label. Our validation relies so heavily on the ‘ideal’, the conditioned perfect, that it can quickly erase all excitement we harboured for our special day.  Through centuries of rapid evolvement in fashion trends, the meaning we’ve attached to a size label has remained the same. Large means fat. 

It doesn’t matter that standardised sizing relies on decades-old data that is wildly inconsistent in every department store. We’re agonisingly made aware that our bodies don’t reflect the manufactured myth of perfection.

Here’s how our Rainbow Labels are set to change that: 

The driving point of a size label, in today’s custom-made-everything age, is so that designers and manufactures can bring efficiency into their supply chain. It has absolutely no thought ascribed to the body, more importantly the person, it serves to adorn.  We imagine every part of the garment to add to the story we try to tell. When we look at the size labels we previously used, it became jarringly clear that they served no other purpose for a couturier that makes clothes to measure.  At Papa Don’t Preach, we want to introduce a new language in the dialogue of size inclusivity. 

Rainbow Labels – Every number or letter that symbolises size is replaced by a statement, an ever-present reminder, “size doesn’t matter.” size doesn’t matter.” Look again, size doesn’t matter.” 

The Process:

 We may not be re-inventing the wheel, but we are re-imagining every spoke on it.  Being one of the handful of Indian brands that do not charge ‘fat tax,’ we realised early on that it’s up to designers and the fashion community to redefine what it means to be inclusive. Even if, like rainbow labels, it has never been done before.  By no means, is this an overnight process. The road less travelled, often comes with unexpected roadblocks and challenges. Changes, big changes like these need the participation of the people around it. 

Work in progress

Our distribution channels span across the world with over 20 stockists. Our primary challenge is to educate our global partners about the new system, how it works and why such a drastic change is crucial for our community. To implement these changes from the ground up, we are removing all our old labels to repurpose them and herald in the new. 

The colours serve the original purpose of segregating clothes from a supply chain perspective but they have no other meaning. This, once again, comes with fresh hurdles and a side of financial strain and man-power. Our E-commerce platforms, for example, are our biggest challenge as it serves customers across time zones and real-time sales assistants is a hard one to plug in. At the end of the day, despite the myriad of problems to fix, we’re stronger knowing that we have the support of the community behind us, we’re wiser knowing that each challenge we overcome is a win for all of us.

A special side note: karigars (artisans), being integral to our business, are given credit and recognition with their name labelled on every garment they bring to life. This not only showcases their talent but also keeps their story alive. This may not be the final solution, but it’s a step towards inclusivity with a long walk ahead. 

Our clothes are designed to fit you, not the other way around. So this is us, taking the label back to a utopian future where size is meaningless and holds no power over you.  Hello world in 2022, hope you get our memo!

Size Doesn’t Matter.  Thank you for your part in our revolution.